Vector is the Victor

As a graphic design firm, we have client’s send us their logos to use in print, on event signage, building way-finding systems, advertising, web design, and promotional items. Inevitably we get a logo that is pulled from their website or powerpoint presentation which typically can’t be used for most of these deliverables.  The confusion over file formats is quite understandable, so in an effort to clarify the difference between file formats, and why you should send vector files whenever possible, here are some things that might help.


All bitmap files created on a computer, or camera, are comprised of colored pixels (those little squares of light that make up your monitor), and can be created at a particular resolution which is measured in pixels per inch. The higher the resolution, the denser the pixels are, the sharper the image. There are three broad categories of resolution:

  • Low-Resolution — Typically 72 ppi (pixels per inch), good for most things displayed on a computer (not including high-definition tablets, phones, and screens).
  • Medium-Resolution — Typically 150 ppi, and works well for sign output that will be viewed at a distance.
  • High-Resolution — Typically 300 ppi, and is required for digital or offset printing. If the file you are supplying is as large or larger than the size it will be used at, a high-resolution file can work just fine.

There are two broad categories of image file types

Bitmap files — Typically JPG, PNG, or GIF, are “pictures” of your logo made up of pixels. Depending on the resolution of the image, most can not be enlarged beyond the current dimensions of the file, and depending on the output (offset printing, digital output, silkscreen) can only be used at 25-50% of the current size. Why? Because as a “picture” of your logo, it has a specific resolution and dimension (width x height).

An Example of Pixelation

Vector files — For most graphic applications these are Adobe Illustrator files, saved as an AI or EPS format. These files actually contain artwork/lines (which are called vectors) that make up your logo, along with the information about color fills, borders, etc.

An Example Of Vector Artwork

“Why are Vector Files preferred?”

  • Vector files are editable — If I need to make a one-color version of your logo so that it can be engraved on a glass or embroidered on a shirt, I can do that. Turn your PMS logo into CMYK, no problem.
  • Vector files are not resolution specific — That means they are infinitely scalable, shrunk to fit on a pen or enlarged to fill a billboard…and still look great.

Want to see what this nice web logo will look like if we try to print it? Give it a click.